Got a blunt electric knife, and you’re thinking of chucking it out?
Well don’t, I’ve got you covered.
In this article, you’ll learn about:
- What are Electric knives?
- How do you sharpen Electric Knife Blades?
- Precautions you need to take when sharpening Electric Blades
- And so much more!
What's in this Guide?
What is an Electric Knife?
An electric knife has a serrated blade that is powered by an electric motor. The added power means that it requires less strength than a normal blade.
But, you’ll also quickly notice that you have less control with an electric knife. That’s alright most of the time, since you’ll save energy using one, but they aren’t suitable for every task.
Still, most people consider electric knives a useful and versatile tool, especially for large cutting jobs like carving roast.
If you’ve seen an electric knife advertised on TV or online, chances are you’ve seen someone claim that electric knives don’t dull. The truth is very different. Electric knives do dull over time, like other knives. But, it does generally take longer for an electric knife to dull.
The motor also masks some of the symptoms of a dull knife, so you might not notice right away. The good news is that your electric knife can be sharpened, just like other knives.
A good sharpening will restore your electric knife to maximum efficiency, so I’ve outlined a few simple steps to help you restore this helpful appliance.
How do you Sharpen Electric Knife Blades?
Electric knife blades can be sharpened in a variety of ways. You can either take it to a professional knife sharpener and pay to have it sharpened, or, you can get the knife back to its original brilliance at home.
Two great methods to restore your knife at home include using an electric knife sharpener or an electric sharpening rod.
I’ll talk about both methods so you can choose which option is best for you and your kitchen.
How to Sharpen your Knife with an Electric Knife Sharpener?
- Unplug the Knife
- Remove the Blade
- Start With The Coarsest Grindstone
- Repeat on Finer Grindstones
- Carefully Clean and Reassemble
There are different electric knife sharpeners for different kinds of blades. It is important to find the perfect one to suit your blade type.
A high-quality electric knife blade should be sharpened with an equally high-quality sharpener. Many electric knife blades have been spoiled by terrible sharpeners.
Always look at reviews before you buy a new knife sharpener. You should also check what kind of blades your new sharpener can handle, since most electric knives come with multiple blade options.
A sharpener that’s designed for a non-serrated chef blade might not do as well with a heavily serrated carving knife, or even the milder serration of a bread knife.
Steps on how to Sharpen your Blade with an Electric Knife Sharpener
Step 1: Unplug the Knife
Before you begin, unplug your knife from any power source switch. If you have a battery-powered electric knife, remove the batteries. While common sense, you’d be surprised how often there are accidents when this step is forgotten.
Step 2: Remove the Blade
Remove the blade from the knife. Examine carefully to make sure the blade is still in reasonable condition — no cracks, and only modest curving if any. Even with a good sharpener, you’ll still need to replace electric knife blades from time to time.
Step 3: Start With The Coarsest Grindstone
With the sharp side of your electric blade facing the hollow side of the sharpener, carefully insert the blade as deep as possible into the slot provided by the sharpener. Only use the coarsest grindstone setting if your blade is very dull or has slight nicks. This stone takes off more material, shortening the overall life of the blade slightly every time you use it. A finer grindstone can restore sharpness without taking off as much material. Ensure the knife blade successfully comes in contact with the grindstone. You should be able to feel contact, and you want to maintain consistent pressure once you’ve reached the grindstone.
Starting from the blade’s heel till you get to the tip, slowly start sliding the blade tool with gentle pressure. It is recommended this is done at an angle between 15 to 20 degrees. You’ll need to do this 2-3 times for the best results.
Step 4: Repeat on Finer Grindstones
Pass the blade onto the finer grinding stones and repeat the process I’ve outlined.
Finer grind stones (Most good electric sharpeners will have 2-3 grinding stones, and occasionally more) refine the edge for a sharper finish. They also help your edge last longer so you don’t have to sharpen the blade as often.
Step 5: Carefully Clean and Reassemble
Carefully clean the knife with a damp cloth or sponge before you reassemble the knife. Check to make sure there is no loose metal or dust still on the knife, and then reattach the blade to the handle.
If you removed the batteries in step 1, go ahead and replace them now.
This video demonstrates good technique with an electric knife sharpener.
How to Sharpen your Knife with a Sharpening Rod
- Power Down
- Remove the Knife Blade
- Sharpen the Knife
- Consider Differences for Serrated Blades
- Clean Off the Blade
A knife sharpening rod is a good alternative to an electric knife sharpener if you’re looking for a little more control or just don’t want another appliance taking up valuable counter space.
This method is a bit more complicated than using an electric knife sharpener, but it is still fairly straightforward. You also have a lot more control over the results, and won’t remove as much metal during the sharpening process with this tool.
Steps on How to Sharpen a Knife using a Sharpening Rod
Step 1: Power Down
Unplug the battery on your electric knife, or make sure the cord is unplugged. This can seem like a silly step to include, but it’s really important to make sure you don’t accidentally hurt yourself or damage the knife or sharpening rod.
At the same time, make sure you have the sharpening rod handy.
Step 2: Remove the Knife Blade
If you have a reasonable grip on just the knife blade, remove it from the handle. If you don’t really have a good grip point on the knife blade, that’s okay, you can leave it in the handle. However, in the handle you need to be especially careful to make sure you’re still sharpening the base of the blade.
Step 3: Sharpen the Knife
Carefully slide the blade down the rod on one side. It’s important to keep a consistent angle and pressure the whole time. The whole blade should cross the honing rod. Make sure you don’t leave any point untouched. Professionals will do this with the honing rod and knife mostly vertical, but you may find it easier to use a horizontal position, or to move the rod instead of the knife. That works, but is slightly less effective. Repeat several times on either side.
Step 4: Consider Differences for Serrated Blades
Serrated blades, which are very common, need a slightly different technique on your honing rod. You’ll want to carefully match the motion of the blade to the serrations, while maintaining consistent pressure and the same angle. It is possible to sharpen a serrated blade this way, but it’s more difficult and takes longer.
Give yourself a little extra time to make sure you’re providing consistent pressure and making contact with all parts of the serration.
Don’t be surprised if you need a little practice before you get this right. Fortunately, you can usually fix a bad sharpening job with the same tools and techniques.
Step 5: Clean Off the Blade
Finally, clean the blade with water and a damp cloth or sponge. Make sure there is no metal debris or dust on the blade, you don’t want specs of metal to wind up in your food.
Your blade should now be sharp and effective, but you may want to test it. Never run your thumb along a blade to test its sharpness. Instead, slice a fruit, vegetable, or crusty bread with your electric knife. Even though it’s not the same as carving a roast, testing your knife will give you a better sense on how sharp it really is. Plan on testing the first few times you sharpen with a new tool, but you may not need to as you get more experience.
Using an electric knife sharpening rod is more stressful compared to using an electric knife sharpener. It is also more time consuming and requires delicate handling. However, this process is better for French fillet knives and ultimately more fulfilling. After all, not everyone can pull this method off.
Precautions to take while Sharpening an Electric Knife Blade
Sharpening an electric knife blade is a very simple process that doesn’t require much skill. However, here are some useful precautionary measures you should take before you begin to sharpen your electric knife blade.
- Ensure your knife is unplugged from your electrical socket before you begin sharpening. It sounds obvious, but accidents happen.
- Never rush sharpening and don’t try to sharpen your knife with a lot of pressure. Not only are you more likely to damage your electric knife, but you could also hurt yourself in the process.
- Ensure your hands are dry and free from water or oils before you begin. Moisture on your hands is a slip risk, and can also be an electric risk with some electric knives.
- Do not attempt to touch the blade directly before, during, or after sharpening. Test the blade on something else instead.
- Finally, never compromise on quality. The last thing you want is to ruin an expensive electric carving knife with a poorly manufactured sharpener.
Final Remarks on Sharpening an Electric Knife Blades
Electric knives are very fancy and versatile kitchen tools that help perform several functions. whether you’re carving up a holiday ham or turkey, or just cutting a nice slice of French bread.
However, like any knife, they get blunt over time and need to be sharpened to retain their cutting edge. Ideally, you should make sharpening your knives (not just the electric knife) a part of your regular kitchen routine.
With the tools and process I’ve outlined above, you should be ready to meet the challenge of even the dullest electric knife blade. Now, get slicing!